Bristol recognised as global leader in fighting climate change

Bristol recognised as global leader in fighting climate change

Bristol has been recognised as a global leader in the fight against climate change with the city praised for its leadership and effort to shift to net zero.

23 November 2021

The city has been awarded an A List rating for the second time by the not-for-profit charity, CDP, for demonstrating concerted and effective action in the fight against climate change.

The prestigious rating is only awarded to cities that have established emissions reduction targets and have a published and audited plan for acting. For Bristol, that is our One City Climate strategy.

Bristol is joined on the A List by 97 other world cities and is only one of 11 UK cities to make the list. Other names include Auckland, Athens, Berlin, Los Angeles, Paris and Tokyo.

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said:

“This rating is a major endorsement of the journey we are on and the approach we are taking to tackle the climate and ecological emergencies. If COP26 should teach us anything it’s that the battle against climate change will be won or lost in cities, as is recognised in the final agreements signed by the governments in attendance. Our journey is similar to those of every urban area across the world. We share the same struggles against a changing climate and outdated systems that render governments unable to act in any meaningful way. It’s humbling to be recognised as one of the leaders in this journey and also bolsters our resolve to meet the ambitious targets we have set for ourselves.

“The actions we are taking can be seen across the city, from Hartcliffe to Avonmouth and Lockleaze to Withywood. We’re retrofitting homes to conserve energy and heat, planting trees and protecting green space. Wind turbines and heat pumps are delivering clean energy with more investment coming down the track that will supercharge our efforts to power the city sustainably. Flood defences are being built to protect our homes whilst preserving valuable natural wetlands. Our ambition is leading us to develop mass transit systems and explore innovative ways of building homes that contribute to our net zero goal. It’s humbling to be recognised as one of the leaders in this global challenge, and it bolsters our resolve to meet the ambitious targets we have set for ourselves.”

CDP reports that A List cities are noted for taking twice as many mitigation and adaptation measures as non-A List cities, and also identify more than twice as many opportunities - such as the development of sustainable transport and clean technology sectors.

A feature of Bristol’s approach that has stood it out amongst other cities is the One City Approach taken to establish the actions required and the support needed to pursue a net zero future.

Ann Cousins, Co-Chair of the One City Environment Board, said:

“A city can’t hope to build a net zero future unless everyone works together to achieve agreed goals and targets. This is why we have brought together organisations from across the public and private sectors to develop a single, powerful vision of the city we want Bristol to be. The One City Climate Strategy sets out the key things we need to do to achieve a future where everyone in Bristol can be part of a carbon-neutral, climate resilient city that embraces its natural environment. It’s rewarding to have this effort recognised on a global stage, and also offers us an opportunity to learn from others so we ensure we’re staying ahead of the change needed.”

Bristol was the first city to declare a climate emergency in November 2018.

Since then the city has accelerated it’s response to climate change and has planned and invested widely in actions across Bristol:

  • Invested £42 million on retrofitting council homes to reduce tenants’ carbon footprints and energy bills since 2005
  • Granted £250,000 for local community energy projects and supported the development of England’s largest on-shore wind turbine in Lawrence Weston
  • Invested over £60 million on other low-carbon projects, which have helped cut the council’s and city’s energy bills
  • Expanded district heat networks into new parts of the city 
  • Started installing the UK’s largest water source heat pump (drawing heat from Bristol Harbour) to provide zero-carbon heat, and recycling Bristol’s hot shower water to heat homes
  • Invested £12.8 million to improve strategic cycling links. Bristol is now served by 12 miles of cycle tracks that are physically separated from traffic and pedestrians; 49 miles of traffic-free cycle routes away from the roads; a total of 112 miles of cycle routes
  • Achieved Gold Sustainable Food City status for our work to reduce the environmental footprint of our food
  • Committed to at least 30 per cent of Bristol’s land to be managed for the benefit of nature
  • Committed to reduce its use of pesticides by 50 per cent 
  • Planted thousands of trees, with more than 9,000 planted in the last year alone
  • Future actions already in the process of being delivered include:
  • City Leap Energy Partnership to bring over £1 billion of investment into the city for renewable energy and energy efficiency
  • Further transport improvements to key bus routes
  • Increasing segregated priority routes for pedestrians, cyclists and buses 
  • Installing more EV charging points
  • Stronger sustainability policies for new development.
  • Small grants for communities to tackle climate and ecological issues in their communities
  • Completing a programme to change all our streetlighting to low energy use bulbs

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